ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE NEW KIA CEED

A name change from Kia, nothing dramatic, no longer the Cee’d but a more sensible “Ceed”, as the third generation model is launched.

The popular five door hatchback is one of the pillars of the South Korean company, but wait, it is not built there but much nearer home in Slovakia at their ultra modern production facility at Zilina. Our base was not too far distant from the factory, 1,346 metres above sea level up in the High Tatras at Stebske Plato beside the lake which is frozen for about one third of the year. A landscape more akin to Austria or Switzerland. The driving routes were superb, ideally suited for the new Ceed which has definitely taken on a more sporting character.

This Kia model is exclusive to the European market and designed at their styling centre in Frankfurt, engineered for European roads. The first generation model marked the launch of the industry leading seven year warranty, something which has proved to be a major selling point for the entire range and I have no doubt it has led many to purchase a Kia.

I like the sporty stance of the third generation model which takes it to a new level, not just in styling but in build quality. New from the ground up, as with most new models today, it is packed with technology and the engines meet the latest Euro-6d-Temp emissions regulations and the mix is petrol and diesel. In fact, Kia have given maximum customer choice with eleven variants, three engines, two transmissions and four trim levels.

The Ceed story has a lot more chapters to reveal a SW version will follow shortly and a company spokesperson was giving little away but to say that eventually there will be a family of Ceed vehicles. So will we see a coupe? It is very much a case of wait and see.

The first model arrived in late 2012 and to date more than 1.3 million have taken to the roads of Europe and despite the current sales surge for SUVs there is still a considerable market for a five door hatchback. Many will recall when the hatchback ruled the roads, perhaps that will never happen again, but still it plays a major role in the scheme of things.

The new model is lower, wider with a longer overhang than the previous model, a more mature styling and one that will get noticed amongst it many competitors.

It is built on the K2 platform and it delivers a large boot with 395 litres capacity that is with all the seats in place. Good news for rear seat passengers there is much more shoulder room and more headroom up front.

There are various levels, ‘2’, ‘Blue Edition’, ‘3’ and First Edition. All models deliver power to the front wheels, one which continues to prove extremely popular.

The cabin design of the Stinger is transmitted to the new Ceed and this delivers a decided premium feel which is most welcome in this sector of the market.

The interior finish features a high proportion of soft touch materials which adds to the ambience of the cabin making it an extremely pleasant environment for driver and passengers alike. There is wide use of metallic and satin chrome trim and a range of cloth, cloth with faux leather bolsters or genuine leather.

A leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift stick are standard, all of this adds to a very well appointed hatchback.

An updated version of the one litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol with 118bhp, an all new 1.4 T-GDi with 138bhp. Great news for diesel followers, a new unit the U3 with 114bhp, lively performance and welcoming low noise levels.

Every engine is paired with a six speed manual transmission, while the 1.4 T-GDi and 1.6 CRDI engines are also available with the company’s seven speed dual clutch transmission.

Good news for high tech enthusiast, the new Ceed is set to become the best in class in this area. Highlights include the floating system with either a seven inch or an eight inch touch screen nay system. Standard technologies include full Bluetooth, Android-Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility. The First Edition model delivers premium sound courtesy of a JBL system with Clari-Fi music restoration.

Now to the heart of the matter, handling is right up there with the leading contenders in class and for added driving enjoyment a Drive Mode Select system with Normal and Sport modes allows you to tailor the drive experience; this is on ‘Blue Edition’ , ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’ with the DCT transmission.

In keeping with the modern car, the new Ceed boasts a host of driving and safety aids and for the first time this is the first Kia model to feature Lane Following Assist technology and this is across the entire model range.

Depending on the model chosen, Smart Cruise Control, Stop and Go, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Smart Parking Assist and there is pedestrian recognition with haptic steering steel warnings for the Forward Collision Avoidance  Assist system.

All models feature the Vehicle Stability Management which delivers stability under braking and cornering. The system controls the Stability Control if it detects a loss of traction.

Yet another offering from Kia which packs a punch in terms of quality.

Ian Lynas